Validity of patient-reported swallowing and speech outcomes in relation to objectively measured oral function among patients treated for oral or oropharyngeal cancer

R.N.P.M. Rinkel, I.M. Verdonck-de Leeuw, R. de Bree, N.K. Aaronson, C.R. Leemans, I.M. Verdonck-de Leeuwe

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to test the construct validity of the patient-reported outcomes Swallowing Quality of Life Questionnaire (SWAL-QOL) and Speech Handicap Index (SHI) in relation to objectively measured oral function among patients treated for oral or oropharyngeal cancer. The study sample consisted of patients treated for oral or oropharyngeal cancer. Outcome measures were the SWAL-QOL and the SHI, and the Functional Rehabilitation Outcomes Grade (FROG), a test to measure oral and shoulder function. Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient was used to test associations between the SHI and SWAL-QOL scales, and the FROG scales. During a study period of 3 months, 38 patients (21 males, 17 females; mean age 54 years) were included who visited the outpatient clinic for follow-up care 6–155 months after surgical treatment (n = 14) or combined surgery and radiotherapy (n = 24) for oral (n = 21) or oropharyngeal cancer (n = 17). Most SWAL-QOL and SHI scales (except the SWAL-QOL Fatigue scale) correlated significantly with one or more FROG oral function scales. None of the SWAL-QOL and SHI scales correlated significantly with the FROG shoulder function scale. These results support the construct validity of the SWAL-QOL and SHI questionnaires for assessing speech and swallowing problems in daily life that are moderately but significantly related to oral function. A multidimensional assessment protocol is recommended for use in clinical practice and for research purposes for measuring oral function and swallowing- and speech-related problems in daily life among head and neck cancer patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-204
JournalDysphagia
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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